Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ireland - 2011

Although Robbie and I went on some amazing U.S. Adventures in 2010, I was definitely feeling a craving for international travel. Lucky for me, Travelzoo was offering an AMAZING deal to visit Ireland in early spring (if you've never been to Travelzoo, I recommend heading over as soon as you're done here :). The package included two nights in Dublin, six nights at the Adare Manor, and a rental car. So, we convinced our roommates, Jesse and Sarah, to come with us and bought tickets to head to the land of green hills and grey skies!


We landed in Dublin in the early morning hours and were able to watch the sun come up. After we left the airport, we got in our rental car and that's when the chaos ensued (note the Irish drive on the right side of the vehicle and left side of the road)! Robbie was brave enough to go first and screamed alongside of us as we thought we were running into oncoming cars (as documented in the video below). Not to mention the fact that we couldn't find the reverse gear on the shifter and had to make sure we had enough space for full circles for the first 20 minutes.


Even though we had some car trouble at first, that didn't stop us from exploring the city. Dublin is a super cool city with lots of color on it's buildings, doors, and landscape. We walked all over the city that first day. It was fun to stumble upon unique neighborhoods, and find the major districts that Robbie had researched beforehand. The second day, we joined a free walking tour through a group called "New Europe". It was such a smart move. We saw so many sites and learned so much history, and it was all free! Bonus: the guides are usually stage actors who lead tours as a way to practice their performance skills. In other words, the storytelling is amazing.


After we left Dublin, we made west toward the west coast. We spent the next six nights in a small village called Adare. This would act as a home base for the remainder of our exploring. The west side of Ireland is much more "country". There are rolling green hills, tons of sheep, and cute towns and villages all along the way. One day, we drove to a place called the Dingle Pennisula. It is a coastal community with a quaint village, colorful boats, and tiny beaches. I really enjoyed Dingle, but was bummed because we happened to go on a Sunday, so many of the businesses were closed.


The next day, we went to the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are 750-900 ft. high and drop off into the Atlantic Ocean. We all got a little rebellious and crossed over the boundary lines to get better views. I know what is coming when I say this, but there were a ton of other people doing it. Robbie and Jesse decided to go a little bit further and put their heads over the edge. I felt queasy at the thought of becoming a widow and urged them to get back. It was the ultimate trying experience for my fear of heights.


We also decided to drive to the second largest city in Ireland, Galway. Galway has small streets, lots of shopping, a river running through it, and buildings that were shorter than I expected. The architecture was really cool and the people seemed to be creative with the space they had. We found an interesting tattoo shop and Sarah joked about all of us getting matching Irish tattoos. On our way home from Galway, we stopped at a place called "The Burren". It is a barren landscape with beautiful rock formations. The rock was huge and made me feel small in comparison.


Our next big adventure included a trip around The Ring of Kerry, and it is just that: a ring around the county Kerry. Based on Rick Steves' guidebook, we drove the ring counter clockwise so that we wouldn't get caught behind tour buses and lots of traffic. It was a long day in the car, but there were beautiful stops to see and places to explore.


Overall, the trip was so much more than I was hoping for. The weather was much better than I expected it to be in March. It drizzled a bit at night, but we didn't get our first "Irish rain" until halfway through the trip. Most places were foggy from the evening into the late morning, otherwise it was sunny and beautiful. Although it was sunny, we found ourselves wearing jackets and scarves because the wind would cut right through our sweaters, and it was definitely a cold wind. Robbie and I were surprised by how good the food was, because we were expecting boring, bland Irish food. Luckily, that was not the case!


I appreciated this trip in more ways than one. I love being able to explore the world and see different cultures. This was an obvious benefit, but this trip held a much deeper meaning for me. I have been very fortunate in my travels, but once I started working in a corporate environment, I was worried that I would have to sacrifice these passions. I was afraid I wouldn't have the opportunity to see anymore of the world, and this helped me to see that I was wrong. This trip helped me understand that my job isn't holding me back from going on another adventure, and I am grateful for that.

Favorites
  • Brie cheese is used in sandwiches and melts all over the place and it is delicious! 
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful nature of the country and its people. I never felt rushed, stressed, or out of place. Even the security team at the airport was friendly!
  • I loved eating dinner at local pubs, especially in smaller towns and villages. Its cozy and it really helped me to feel more like a local. 
Tips
  • Go on the Guinness Factory tour in Dublin. The tour can run about 15 euro, but is worth every penny if you are curious as to why Guinness has a different taste depending on the distance it needs to travel (or just want to know how beer is made). Plus, if you take the self-guided tour, you can enjoy a free pint while seeing the only 360 degree view from the highest point in all of Dublin. 
  • If your flight arrives in the early morning hours, do your best to stay awake and go on the New Dublin walking tour. It provides such great insight into the city's history. Bonus: knowing more about the city will help you decide where you want to spend your time and focus your energy. 
  • If you have a question, ask! We found the Irish people to be friendly and eager to help.

Have you been to Ireland? Would you walk out onto the cliffs to get a better view of the edge?

1 comments:

  1. that video is hilarious and the pictures are awesome.

    ReplyDelete

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